What happened

Shares of biotech giant Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) outpaced the market last month, gaining 12% compared to a 3% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The move added to solid returns for shareholders lately, with the stock having outperformed the broader market over the past year.

A male and a female scientist looking at a petri dish under a microscope

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

February's rally came as investors digested generally strong fourth-quarter results that were released in the final days of January. Yes, sales growth slowed when compared to the third quarter. However, Illumina still expanded revenue at a double-digit pace, and growth would have been faster if not for the distortion caused by recent tariffs.  

Now what

CEO Francis deSouza and his executive team said in a conference call with analysts that management expects revenue to rise by between 13% and 14% in 2019. That result would be a slowdown from the past year's 21% spike. Yet it would also mark the gene sequencing giant's 21st consecutive year of growth. That impressive streak is a testament to Illumina's strong market position across several attractive niches in the healthcare treatment industry. As long as the company can defend that valuable posture, the stock should continue to outperform.